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July 25, 2017 Comments (0) Views: 778 Blog, Startup Buzz

Startup Buzz: Brain Corp Raises $114 Million To Create Robot Brains

Plus: SkySafe reaches new heights with funding and DOD contract

Follow the Money

San Diego-based eFFECTOR Therapeutics raised a $38.6 million Series C round led by Pfizer Venture Investments (PVI). The company focuses on developing cancer drugs known as selective translation regulators. The drugs take advantage of translation, a process in which information in genetic sequences is used to direct synthesis of proteins. The drugs can act on a single protein and use biological processes for targeting and delivery. “PVI is delighted to further support eFFECTOR’s efforts to develop a promising novel class of investigational compounds for the treatment of cancer by leading this Series C financing,” said Dr. Elaine Jones, Vice President of PVI.

Reinforcing the idea that AI is the way of the future, Brain Corp raised a $114 million Series C round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund. Brain Corp, with its roots at Qualcomm — its first funder — is an artificial intelligence company that specializes in self-driving technology for robots. The new funding will be used to further develop AI technology and create brains for multiple types of commercial and consumer robots.


Big Week for SkySafe

Local drone defense company SkySafe announced an $11.5 million Series A round led by Andreesen Horowitz. CEO Grant Jordan didn’t stop there in the announcement on LinkedIn, saying, “We’re also thrilled to have won a $1.5 million contract with the Department of Defense, providing mobile counter-UAS systems to Naval Special Warfare units for protection from this new drone threat. These investments will allow us to expand our team and deploy our systems to the field faster.”


So What is a Chatbot?

Rock My World can tell you. The company that introduced the app RockMyRun, offering music playlists to runners with smartphones, has now taken it a step further introducing a fitness chatbot, A product marketed to the corporate wellness audience, the chatbot monitors the activity and goals of employees and prompts them to meet those goals each day. It was developed for Slack, but also works with Fitbit, Google Fit, Samsung Health, and the HealthKit software for the Apple Watch. So now there is one more way to feel guilty when you haven’t gotten your steps in for the day.


Could LA Challenge San Diego’s Biotech Status?

It looks as if Los Angeles is looking to create a home for biotech, much like the one we have here in San Diego. Two things to watch: the talent and the money. According to this analysis, scientists who have been fleeing LA for San Diego and San Francisco are now staying and the funding from industry and venture firms is starting to show up. Biocom, a non-profit industry organization that has helped build and strengthen San Diego’s biotech cluster, is actively working to organize the industry in LA. Obviously, they can’t build it overnight and San Diego’s cluster has grown over many years, but it’s something to watch.


Best Cities for Software Engineers

Codementor published a study looking at the salaries of software engineers across the United States and globally. The study didn’t simply look at salaries, but processed those salaries alongside taxes, cost of living, and rents. While Silicon Valley can boast the highest actual salaries, they didn’t come out on top after the other factors weighed in. San Diego ranked 8th nationally, with Seattle in the number one spot, followed by Phoenix at number two and San Jose in third.


Pivots and Opportunities

Quick Pitch Competition

Applications are now being accepted for the Quick Pitch Competition sponsored by Tech Coast Angels and the San Diego Venture Group. Ten finalists will be chosen and receive coaching, while the top three companies will be awarded a combined $50,000. Applications are due by August 11.


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